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I Remember Buddy

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Album Review

Buddy Clark was a journeyman singer of the '30s and '40s who dubbed in the voices for non-singing Hollywood actors, performed on the radio, and sang freelance with a number of big bands. Then in 1947, when he was 34, a cute recording of "Linda" he made with Ray Noble & His Orchestra topped the charts, launching him into the big time at last. In 1948, he was one of the country's top three recording artists, but he was killed in a plane crash in 1949. Jerry Vale, 20 years Clark's junior, began recording for Columbia Records, Clark's label, in 1953, prior to his 21st birthday. He had a handful of chart singles in the ensuing years, breaking into the Top 20 with "You Don't Know Me" in 1956. In 1957, he recorded a version of "All Dressed Up With a Broken Heart," a song Clark had cut ten years earlier, and though it wasn't a commercial success, it sparked an idea for Vale, who had yet to do a full-length LP, to make a 12" record of songs associated with Clark. In December, the 25-year-old singer went into the studio with producer Mitch Miller and arranger/conductor Glenn Osser and came out with his debut album, I Remember Buddy, released in January 1958. It's obvious that the tribute idea is a mere convenience for Vale, Miller, and Osser. The singer does nothing to alter his smooth, relaxed tenor with its ringing tones to sound more like Clark, and Osser turns in late-'50s string arrangements that soften and update the late swing era sound of Clark's records. Further, this is hardly a collection of Clark's greatest hits. Vale does offer an unusually sober interpretation of "Linda," a version of "Peg o' My Heart" that draws a smile every time this very Italianate singer refers to the joys of being Irish, and a warm rendition of "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" from the Broadway musical Finian's Rainbow, all songs that Clark recorded for big hits. But none of the other selections was a Clark hit, even though he may have recorded them. Rather, they are a collection of ballad standards from the '20s, '30s, and '40s, familiar songs like "I'll Get By (As Long as I Have You)," "The Very Thought of You," and "It Had to Be You." Vale was thus enabled to get away from recording contemporary, hit single-oriented songs and move toward the kind of LPs being recorded by Frank Sinatra and Nat "King" Cole at a time when the singles market was coming to be dominated by rock & roll. He acquits himself well, even if a Buddy Clark fan might question the song list. (After being out of print for many years, I Remember Buddy was reissued on CD in 2000 with new liner notes written by Vale.)

Biography

Born: 08 July 1932 in New York, NY [The Bronx]

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Jerry Vale's beautiful high-tenor voice graced many of the most enchanting pop songs of the '50s and '60s, including a parade of Italian-American favorites like "Innamorata (Sweetheart)," "Volare," "Amore, Scusami," and his signature song, "Al Di La." Vale, born Genaro Louis Vitaliano in 1932, learned the Italian repertoire from an early age; his mother often sang around the house and trotted out the old songs at extended-family gatherings. While shining shoes at a local barber shop at the age of...
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I Remember Buddy, Jerry Vale
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